About 40 years ago, while living in Duncan, I took part in a workshop. My recollection is incomplete and there is only one part of it that has stayed with me all these years.
I remember being in a circle of women, with another circle formed behind me. We were asked to say what we loved most about our body.
I did a mental scan of my imperfect physical self, and my anxiety increased. When my turn came to share, I answered with "my eye lashes". Even to me it sounded bizarre.
In the circle behind me, I heard a friend say that she loved her entire body, so couldn't answer with only one area of herself. While I saw her as vivacious and fun, I also saw her as overweight.
Looking at photographs of myself, taken at that time, I see a petite woman with a beautiful smile and a fit body. I see now that I would have been considered pretty, although I don't remember ever being told that.
Three weeks ago as I stood in the bathroom brushing my hair, someone I barely recognized was reflected back to me from the mirror.
Her eyes had deep circles beneath them. Her eyebrows had been micro-bladed to fill in their sparse growth. Her nose had a wee depression at its tip where a biopsy had been carved out. And, for the first time, I didn't apply mascara as my eye lashes were no longer full and long.
How cruel is that!?
I have become used to people showing surprise when I tell them my age, and being told I look way younger than chronology indicates. I now doubt this discrepancy. I believe I finally have caught up with my age.
Maybe the pandemic has played a part in this.
Isolation, the cancellation of social events like the ballet, wearing the same old clothes every day and constantly hearing and reading about death. For the first time I see very clearly all the things we own and knowing that my daughters have no room or desire to be left these things when I die.
These thoughts make me feel very old, as if I am already planning for my death. Covid-19 prohibits me from seeing my wonderful grandkids and my dear daughters. Changes are happening in their lives that I can't witness and share.
Zoom calls are not hugs. The phone doesn't show my smile. I know it's the best we can do now, but the circles beneath my eyes are only getting more pronounced and my body's aches more numerous.
This is my reality. The question is what can I do that is meaningful now ?
A few months ago I took a felt-tipped pen and wrote "My job is to help people"
The words wrote themselves. I have begun acting on this in concrete ways and I will seek out other ways to help. Really, that's all we can do.